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Laursen: Iowa desperately needs immigration reform

Donald+Trump+gives+a+speech+during+the+Freedom+Summit+in+the+Hoyt+Sherman+Place+in+Des+Moines+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+24%2C+2015.+During+he+speech%2C+Trump+said+he+was+concidering+running+for+office.+%28File+photo%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
Donald Trump gives a speech during the Freedom Summit in the Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. During he speech, Trump said he was concidering running for office. (File photo/The Daily Iowan)

Donald Trump gives a speech during the Freedom Summit in the Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. During he speech, Trump said he was concidering running for office. (File photo/The Daily Iowan)

Donald Trump gives a speech during the Freedom Summit in the Hoyt Sherman Place in Des Moines on Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015. During he speech, Trump said he was concidering running for office. (File photo/The Daily Iowan)

Lucee Laursen, [email protected]

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President Donald Trump visited Iowa on July 26 to … Well, I am not exactly sure what Trump’s motive for coming to Iowa was.

Trump may have come to Iowa to discuss the ongoing trade war with China, which is a large, looming cloud over Iowa soybean and hog farmers. Trump could have come to Iowa to discuss the state’s lack of qualified applicants for jobs. And of course, there is the 2020 election that I am sure Trump is campaigning for. Clearly, there was a lot to be discussed at the July 26 roundtable with Trump.

Perhaps the most interesting problem that Iowa faces is its inability to find qualified applicants to fill vacant job openings. I know this sounds crazy, but it is true. Iowa is tied for the second lowest rate of unemployment in the country at only 2.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Basically, Iowa has jobs it can’t fill because there just aren’t any applicants qualified to hold those jobs. Immigration reform, which was discussed at last week’s roundtable, could easily solve this issue.

Iowa’s problem is caused mainly by an ever-changing workforce. What I mean is, the need for certain professions continually changes. For example, one year, Iowa may need 2,000 new nurses; the next year, Iowa may only need 500 nurses. These numbers are completely made up, but they provide an example for what can happen in the workforce even just over the course of one year.

Flux in job demand is to be expected. This only becomes an issue when a state can’t fill the vacant positions. Using the same example from before: If Iowa needed 2,000 nurses one year, and the next year, it needs 2,500 (2,000 from the previous year that still haven’t been filled and 500 from the following year). This becomes a problem. If a state can’t find qualified applicants to fill positions, the issue will only continue to escalate.

“People cannot find workers, and that’s a problem,” Rep. Rod Blum, who was also at the July 26 roundtable.

Iowa’s economy has the potential to continue to expand. Unfortunately, businesses in Iowa can’t advance if there is a labor shortage — it has stunted Iowa’s economic growth. “We have so many jobs moving back to the United States now, and what we need now is talented people — otherwise these companies aren’t going to come in,” Trump said.

The answer seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? Iowa needs more people to fill these jobs.

If jobs aren’t being filled by U.S. applicants, then maybe they could be filled by immigrants. The problem is: Legally immigrating to the U.S. is not a quick or easy process. There are more than 4 million applicants waiting to immigrate to the U.S. Many have college degrees and work experience that could help fill the vacant job positions in Iowa and throughout the U.S.

“We need immigration reform,” Blum said. “More legal-immigration reform. We need temporary work visas in the Ag area.”

I have never been a person who supports illegal immigration. I do absolutely believe that our country’s legal immigration system is outdated and obsolete, and it needs to be reformed to allow immigrants to legally become citizens of the U.S. In Iowa, we desperately need qualified workers. And when we have more than 4 million people actively trying to legally immigrate to the U.S., it seems like the obvious solution to our problem is to develop our workforce, even if new potential employees aren’t from the US.

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